Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business. So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Damion Pasion Jones | The Interior Designer who Truly Cares

When I decided to start my own business, an interior design firm owned by an African American (to my knowledge and correct me if i am wrong, one a 3), there were several mitigating factors that had taken in life. The top factor being that I had just been fired by another West Hollywood/Beverly Hills reputable design house and furnishing showroom for the third time in as many years in February of 2020. The central reason for me being fired had nothing to do with my design finance or anything like that. I got fired because I couldn’t be controlled, put into a box. I would get reprimanded for spending way to much time with the client who was just their buying a coffee table bool or a small double digit deco piece. My thought was that it takes a lot of guts to walk into a beautifully laid out and manicured space where everyone who works there, except me, has to take a coffee break when you walk in. Read more>>

Leshon | Artist

The start of my “business” really came from my surrounding company encouraging me to pursue the avenues that they see my potential in. Read more>>

Dr. Nadir Qazi | Cosmetic Surgeon and Laser Expert

I grew up in a highly competitive middle-class family. My dad was a successful doctor, and my four sisters all had drive to succeed. I am the middle child and the only male. I knew whatever I did, I had to be successful. I discovered art during our family trips to Greece and Italy. I fell in love with accurate sculptures of the human body and became obsessed with creating an accurate depiction of human anatomy. The more I studied the body and how it worked inside and out, the more I curious I became about how things go wrong. Knowing artists don’t always make it big, I pivoted my career path toward pathology, understanding diseases and conditions within the human body. Read more>>

Chanae Sanders | Youth Mentor & Motivator & leader

In the city that I grew up in, there are so many obstacles in front of young people. I faced some of them and was fortunate to overcome them. I seen many fail to overcome them that were my age and also some that were younger than me. I knew that if I had others that cared and reached out that I would have avoided some of my failures. That made me want to be what I didn’t have for others who need the same. My husband has the same passion so we decided to something about it. Read more>>

Connie Chi | Founder of The Chi Group, Co-chair at The Chi Foundation, and TV/Film Executive Producer

People have the ability to inspire not just each other but communities and in turn the world. The problem is many people have a hard time getting their stories out there. So it inspired me to start a PR agency, The Chi Group an award-winning PR agency helping inspirational talents in television and film. We work with actors, influencers, and entrepreneurs from around the world to help inspire the world. Read more>>

Sam Rocco | Director & Writer

Well, not many big production companies are going to randomly reach out to new MFA graduates to direct their next feature, so I figured I’d start my own production company and make my own movies until Marvel comes callin Read more>>

Tamyka Perine | Consultant and Executive Director

My business was birthed from my desire to be a Jill of many trades. Growing up I was never one to stay idle. In fact, by the time I graduated high school I had been actively involved in over 30 activities and organizations. As my career progressed, I found myself drawn to work in the non-profit realm. Anyone who has had a chance to spend time working in that space is well aware that there tend to be a lot of needs and not a lot of available resources. So, with each job I had to wear many hats. Project management came easily and my event work started years prior, making those areas where I initially focused. I had experience in Human Resources and insurance, but because of reorganization I had to teach myself graphic design, how to create websites and how to fundraise. Read more>>

Will Hawkins | Commercial & Portrait Photographer

My thought process on starting a business was that I never wanted to work for anyone. I’ve always craved freedom since childhood, I hated school so by the time I became a teenager I knew I had to find a career that would allow me the freedom to move and navigate the world in the way I wanted without constraint. Read more>>

Joshua Ware | Mental Health Counselor and Blogger

At first, I questioned what I would like my career to look like as a therapist once I am done. The idea of a private practice was always there but I knew there were necessary steps that I had to take: I knew the plan would take time and patience. The idea went into full effect while working a job I was not fulfilled with. I felt like the job I was doing was not aligned with my purpose; it did not fit what I wanted to do nor the reason I went to school for so many years. I made an assessment and saw what was lacking. This propelled me into starting my private practice. I knew it would be a slow boil because anything worth having takes time. I just knew that the foundation needed to be there and that I could not rush my 5-year plan into a 5 month process. Read more>>

Cherelle Hicks | Owner and Creator of Relleyswim

My thought process was like.. I can do this! I have a passion for fashion and I’ve already had experience managing multi-million dollar companies. I wanted to show my kids that its possible, this is possible and believing in yourself is a MUST! Read more>>

EBL HAIR Endless Beauty LLC | Human Hair Extensions

The thought process behind starting EBL HAIR (Endless Beauty LLC) has been something brewing for several years that finally evolved. My daughter and I typically do not wear hair extensions. We love wearing our hair in it’s natural texture which is long, thick, curly, and healthy. There would be times when we were planning to go on vacation and wanted to put our hair in a protective hairstyle with either extensions or braids and would be so disappointed with the quality of hair that was available. We were told that we were purchasing 100% human hair, when in, fact it wasn’t. Since the hair industry is not regulated, companies are able to use fillers, synthetic fibers, and even animal hair in their products and advertise it as human hair. Read more>>

Ngone Mbaye | Yoga instructor & Fashionista

I was practicing yoga for several weeks and recently completed a 200 hour vinyasa yoga teacher training. I was eager to teach what I had learned so I wanted to take classes from different teachers. Being the only person of color in class was happening a lot and I became aware of it really fast with the looks, smile or questions I was getting from people. I was very uncomfortable. One day while in class I noticed the teacher wasn’t making an effort to come near me or adjust me until savasana (last pose of the class). She was going to everyone and rubbing some essential oils on her hands and giving a quick massage or making them smell it. I could really tell since the lights were dimmed. Read more>>

Adam Stoler | Professional Musician, Founder/CEO of Queens Thread Clothing Apparel

I first had the idea to start Queens Thread when I was traveling internationally as a touring guitarist around 2014-2015. It seemed like everywhere I looked, no matter what country or airport, I saw people with Brooklyn hats and shirts. At that time, the Brooklyn brand was becoming a world-wide phenomenon. As a proud Queens resident, I felt like there was so much being ignored and missed, a more authentic hold-out of NYC that wasn’t getting the validation it deserved. Queens is the most diverse place in the world, filled with exceptional, hard-working people from all over, trying to make their place. You can feel this every time you ride the 7 train, or on any stretch of Roosevelt ave – an unparalleled vibrancy and hope that inspires me every day. Read more>>

Chris Ford | Founder and Executive Chef at ButterLove&Hardwork

Like many chefs, starting my own business has always been a goal. The only difference was that, for me, I did not have a clear vision of what that would look like. The only thing I did know was that I wanted to start something that hadn’t been done before. This takes what is already a risky career move and makes it even more risky! It’s like taking a trust fall. You somehow have to manage to be the one to take the fall, and be the one to catch yourself. I’ve always said the most effective way to do this is to believe in yourself and your passion. Go with your gut and your vision, and be you. The industry can be somewhat homogenized – and I understand why. It can feel safer to replicate success, but the reward is so much sweeter when you do it your way. I live by this tenet. Read more>>

Marton Varo | CEO & Executive Producer

When I started Brandefy in 2011, web video was relatively nascent in the business sense and on its way to emerging as a “must have” for business owners to push their brand online. My background at that time was in film production and I wanted to build a cinematic approach to the world of marketing and advertising that I felt was lacking in branded videos that I had seen online, which were pretty run-of-the-mill corporate video productions. Read more>>

Alexis Butler | Planner enthusiast & Woman’s advocate

Since I began grade school I have always been a planner, with a very busy schedule. I played several sports as a kid and always had plenty of homework. When I got to high school my schedule got even busier when I added a part time job to my schedule. Once I finally graduated and began college at Alabama State University on an academic scholarship I was pretty confused on what to do with all of the free time that I had. So, I started filling my time with a bunch of meaningless activities, joining organizations and overall just making myself busy. My planner was always filled with something. But, one day as I was lying in my dorm I started to reflect and realized I had been doing so much and had nothing to show for it. That made me extremely uncomfortable, knowing that I had wasted so much time, time that I couldn’t get back. Read more>>

Susana Caracas Kelly Rodas | AdvCNCS, NCS CACHE, PPD, LE, NICP

Cuidando Angeles NCS Training was born after having been in the nanny industry for the last 15 years and noticing how our Spanish-speaking community was at a disadvantage in gaining education opportunities within the industry. Like the many who sought to form a more professional career, we took training courses in English since those were our only option up to becoming Certified Advanced Newborn Care Specialists (NCSA) , NCS CACHE, Postpartum Doulas (DONA), Lactation Educators (CAPPA), and Certified Newborn and Infant Care Professionals (USNA). However, our colleagues and friends who desired to do the same and improve their services but, didn’t master the English language felt stuck. Around the start of the pandemic we saw first hand how nannies struggled to maintain jobs while the industry became more competitive as clients began demanding more knowledgeable care. Read more>>

Brit June | Artist + Co-Owner

Being in a singular role at a company is super limiting for me personally, as I enjoy being able to flow between projects depending on my mood. I unfortunately had a number of experiences working for other people that left me feeling defeated and restricted – having the freedom to exercise my creativity and skillset was always limited so having ownership creates ample opportunity to keep things lively. Read more>>

Annie Chuong | Dumpling Friend

This question is kind of hard to answer because it honestly happened spontaneously. I started a dumpling fundraiser earlier this year during the height of all the anti-Asian violence. It was pretty successful for what it was–the fundraiser lasted a month and a half and I raised more money than I could have imagined and wrapped over 3,000 dumplings. I was hoping to just raise a couple of hundred dollars and share dumplings with a few friends, but through social media and word-of-mouth, I got a lot of positive feedback for the dumplings and decided I wanted to share it with more people and took the opportunity to sell at my very first pop-up in May. Read more>>

Kelia Gipson | Designer & Fashion Model

My thought process behind starting my own business derived from the noticeable lack of body inclusivity when it comes to fashion more specifically swimwear. My desire to create generational wealth for my family also played a key role in my decision to pursue entrepreneurship. Although you can have great success working in corporate America depending on the industry in which you work; I determined that entrepreneurship would give me success without limitations.Read more>>